New Jersey State Court Strikes Down Some Residency Requirements for Petitioners

On March 31,a Mercer County Superior Court struck down some New Jersey restrictions on who can circulate a petition. Here is the 48-page opinion in Empower our Neighborhoods v Guadagno, L-3148-11.

In 2007, in a case filed by several minor parties, in-district residency requirements for circulators of independent candidate petitions for federal and state office had been struck down (the state had conceded the requirements were unconstitutional, no so decision was actually issued). In the Empower Our Neighborhoods case, in-district residency requirements for circulators in partisan county and city elections are also struck down. The decision also strikes down in-district residency requirements for recall petitions and petitions to place someone on a primary ballot.

However, the decision upholds the requirement that circulators of a primary petition must be a member of the same party. The decision does not decide whether out-of-state residents should be allowed to circulate petitions in New Jersey, nor does it decide whether non-citizens, or persons aged 16-18 should be allowed to be circulators.

The New Jersey Republican Party, which was a defendant along with the Secretary of State, vigorously tried to defend the law that doesn’t let anyone circulate a primary petition unless that circulator lives in the district, but that requirement was still struck down. Thanks to Flavio Komuves for the link.

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